Is Serve & Volley a dying tactic?
Looking at the Wimbledon courts this summer, we can clearly see that there is a lot of wear and tear on the baseline, with much of the net area looking like the groundsman only just cut the grass. This seems to be the case for the last few years at least. Compared to the days of McEnroe or even to the Sampras Era, videos show that the wear and tear was much more even, indicating a change in how the game is now played.
Why is this? One reason may be due to racket power and ball speed. The point can be finished off quickly from the baseline without the player needing to run into the net. It could also be considered that the modern professional players are much bigger and stronger, therefore again being able to finish off points earlier without running into the net.
Another point to consider is the how coaches are teaching their players. From our experience, coaches seem much happier to teach skills from the baseline and less so from the net. Its been proven that mini tennis players rarely use the volley as young players have worked out that they can win the point from the baseline and this is ingrained in them early.
Coaches also use role models for their players to watch and analyze. We don't have exact numbers, but we're guessing that the role models for most young players are going to be the big four (Federer, Djok, Nadal, Murray) alongside possibly Serena and a few others. All of these players are considered baseliners, apart from Federer, who, although he does serve & volley quite a lot, isn't considered to an actual serve & volleyer by trade. Funnily enough, a lot of these players are actually very good returners. Good returners can neutralize a good serve & volleyer, which is another potential reason why serve & volleyers are dying out.
If a young player is told to serve & volley by their coach, a willing player will do as they're told. However, because it's not trained or practiced enough, surely the success rate isn't that high, especially with young players not having big serves? This also develops a fear of getting passed or being lobbed which results in players doing it less and less.
The art of serve & volley shouldn't completely die out. With the game going the way it is, maybe it shouldn't be a specific game style, but it should definitely be used more often as an element of surprise and as another style a player can adapt to if needed.